Kelly Brand is part of the younger group of jazz musicians who are making sure that jazz in Chicago stays alive and well. On this, her second CD as a leader, the pianist leads her Nextet through a multi-faceted program of compositions spanning Richard Rodgers through Bobby Hutcherson to Roland Kirk, with three of her originals as seasoning. There are three Kelly's involved in this production. The first, of course, is the leader/pianist. The second is her husband, Kelly Sill, on bass, and the third is the dog to which the album is dedicated. Brand strikes a couple of performing poses throughout this 51 minutes of music. On the time-honored standard "My Funny Valentine," she stylistically strolls down a pensive, ruminative path. On Chick Corea's "Tones for Joan's Bones," she takes on a greater harmonic challenge which seeks the help of bass player Sill to work out. Her own "The Gatespinner" is a lilting piece of work alternating between a waltz-like tempo and a more jagged rhythmic pattern. It's Louis Stockwell's turn on soprano sax to provide counterpoint to Brand's. This music shows some of Thelonious Monk's influence. Roland Kirk's "Gifts and Messages" has a similar alternating motif, with the gifts symbolized by a languorous serenade and messages by a more sprightly set of harmonics. Art Davis' trumpet carries the musical cargo on this track, with help from a talkative Sill bass. The springy Brand piano is very prominent here as everywhere. This is solid mainstream jazz with a modern touch and should be well received by those who prefer their jazz in small groups. Recommended.
AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan